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While COVID-19 has been a public health crisis, the virus has highlighted many other issues our vulnerable communities already face. Despite the pandemic and its challenges, organizations such as Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley stand ready to help those in need.

Faith in Action is a volunteer organization providing free services for seniors in Kanawha and Putnam counties. The trained volunteers provide transportation to medical appointments, access to groceries and supplies, simple home maintenance projects and reassuring phone calls to hundreds of our older neighbors across the valley. We fill in the gaps created when seniors might not qualify for existing services because of geography, income, insurance or other obstacles.

With few exceptions, there are only two requirements to qualify as a Faith in Action care receiver: Applicants must be age 60 or older and live in Kanawha or Putnam counties.

As Faith in Action approaches its 7th birthday on May 1, we want to celebrate and call attention to our perseverance. The pandemic could have easily caused us to shut down; instead, our doors and hearts remained open to serving our older neighbors to the best of our ability.

We implemented strict safety protocols while still providing reliable transportation to essential medical appointments. We adapted our services to include online grocery ordering and contactless delivery to keep our seniors safe. We increased our telephone outreach by 60% to stay connected with our care receivers and help them feel less alone. And we were able to create and deliver “porch packages,” featuring fresh vegetables, holiday meals and Valentine treats.

As with any nonprofit, we rely heavily on donations and fundraising to achieve our mission.

Because of the COVID-19 emergency, many of our traditional funders have restructured their giving, donating less than normal to our organization. Additionally, we were forced to cancel our two annual fundraising events: Sweet Charity, a dessert competition featuring local bakers; and Pedal with Purpose, a 5K bike and foot race. Together, these events provide nearly 20% of our annual operating budget.

Despite that loss of revenue, Faith in Action is still here and ready to serve. But we need your help to sustain our impact. With social distancing and other preventative measures in mind, we’re excited to announce that, for the first time, Pedal with Purpose has been reimagined as a virtual challenge. Running from May 1 to May 31, participants will bike, walk or run 60 miles, logging their distance on the event website and achieving virtual badges along the way. Finishers will receive a medal after completing the challenge.

Registration is open, and, in addition to raising money for Faith in Action, top fundraisers will receive a prize.

Faith in Action truly is a local nonprofit depending on local support to care for local seniors.

Since the organization’s inception in 2014, volunteers have performed more than 17,000 hours of service by providing more than 3,400 round-trip rides to medical appointments, 1,000 trips to the grocery store and 4,300 phone calls to our older neighbors, contributing a real value benefit exceeding $400,000 to our community.

Every dollar raised contributes to our mission of helping area seniors age in place and with dignity. Your help means Faith in Action and its more than 200 volunteers can ensure that our older neighbors get the reliable care they need, neighbor to neighbor.

To register or learn more about the Pedal with Purpose Virtual Challenge, donate, or to apply as a care receiver or volunteer, visit www.faithinactiongkv.com.

Whitney Humphrey is a volunteer with Faith in Action of the Greater Kanawha Valley.

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